Theological Objections

Not everyone is a professional theologian, but we are all ordinary theologians.

When people say theology isn’t practical, perhaps they are not seeing the practical implications immediately. Sometimes, when we confront a theological principle, it takes time to see its practical implications. Think about these theological concepts: the goodness of God, the reality of future judgment, God’s sovereign control over the world. Aren’t those concepts practical? Is it impractical to consider the reality of judgment? Does God’s goodness not impact us practically? Just because we are not immediately aware of the practical implications does not mean they are not there.

 

I’m taking a systematic theology course, and on the first day of class, we were asked to raise our hands if our study of theology had elicited objections from friends or family. I, and about half of the class raised our hands. For the first part of the lecture, we discussed some of the objections we have heard. I want to share two of them, because I think they are probably the most common objections. And they are objections I’ve heard from women, especially.

Objection 1: The Bible is Enough — I don’t need theology.

This objection may arise because of a misunderstanding of what theology is. Basically, theology is the study (the ending -ology means a study of) of God (theos is Greek for God). To say that the Bible and theology are not related doesn’t make sense, because where do we find out who God is? From the Bible. Yes, we see God in creation, but we also learn about God’s character and actions through the Bible. So, to study theology is to study the Bible. The Bible teaches Christian theology. There is no need to put a wedge between the Bible and theology.

Objection 2: Theology is impractical — give me something practical.

When people say theology isn’t practical, perhaps they are not seeing the practical implications immediately. Sometimes, when we confront a theological principle, it takes time to see its practical implications. Think about these theological concepts: the goodness of God, the reality of future judgment, God’s sovereign control over the world. Aren’t those concepts practical? Is it impractical to consider the reality of judgment? Does God’s goodness not impact us practically? Just because we are not immediately aware of the practical implications does not mean they are not there.

I wonder if what people mean when they say that theology is not practical is that they want to be told something to do. It’s work to think through the implications.

Read More